Texas Decides 2018 Voters Guide
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Voters Guide

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 2

What Do They Do? A short video explanation of state elected officeshttps://youtu.be/JuRlMQt57Xo6-year term. A member of the court that hears only civil cases. The Supreme Court issues final decisions on civil and juvenile appeals, issues writs of mandamus/habeas corpus, and has jurisdiction over orders or judgments of trial courts if the Supreme Court determines them important to the jurisprudence of the state. Current salary: $171,000Plazo de 6 años. Un miembro de la corte que solamente escucha casos civiles. La Corte Suprema emite decisiones finales sobre apelaciones civiles y juveniles, emite recursos de mandamus/habeas corpus y tiene jurisdicción sobre órdenes o sentencias de tribunales de primera instancia si la Corte Suprema determina que son importantes para la jurisprudencia del estado. Salario actual: $ 171,000.

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    Jimmy Blacklock

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    Steven Kirkland

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Biographical Information

Background: What training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?

Public Protection: What changes, if any, are needed to provide better protection to the public regarding rules and standards for the legal profession?

Mental Health: What should the Supreme Court’s goals be in the newly formed Judicial Commission on Mental Health?

Responsibilities: Which responsibility of a Texas Supreme Court justice is your highest priority and how do you intend to accomplish it?

I bring experience serving on the Texas Supreme Court and experience as a lawyer handling cases before the Texas Supreme Court, I also served as Deputy Attorney General under then Attorney General Greg Abbott. My judicial philosophy is firmly grounded in the text of the Constitution. My only job is to apply the Constitution and the laws as they are written--never substituting my personal opinions for the dictates of the law.
The Texas Supreme Court plays an important role by overseeing the state Bar of Texas and the legal profession in Texas. Current Texas law protects the public from dishonest and unscrupulous attorneys and it is important for the court to continue to ensure that those laws are vigorously enforced.
The court's establishment of the Judicial Commission on Mental Health is an important step toward confronting the mental health challenges burdening our court system and our taxpayer resources. The Commission will recommend improvements in the law and in court procedure to help the court system better serve Texans with mental health challenges. I look forward to working with the commission on this important task.
My highest priority on the court is deciding cases based on the law. Judges should never decide cases based on what we personally believe or on what we would like the law to be. Our highest duty is to uphold the rule of law by applying the law exactly as it is written to the cases that come before the court.
In 13 years as a Judge, I’ve presided over more than 750 jury trials and fought to make our court system more transparent, accountable and fair. As a community leader, I fought to expand affordable housing and end discrimination. As a lawyer, I sued polluters to protect our neighborhoods. These experiences help make my decisions more fair and just.
Justice demands the highest standards, but rules alone do not ensure quality representation. Recent studies reveal an alarming amount of mental health and substance abuse issues among attorneys. This crisis creates substandard service to clients and drives up costs for everyone. The Court should lead the profession in addressing these issues, not only through discipline but also through prevention. I have a long history of speaking and advocating for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
This commission needs to identify and remove the legal barriers people face when seeking help for mental health issues. This includes expanding the use of problem-solving courts like veterans and homeless courts and drug and alcohol rehab courts. The commission needs to identify ways the legal system is detrimentally impacted by people in mental health crisis and seek solutions that humanely address the impacts. Finally, the commission must seek to educate the Justice system on these issues.
Texans deserve justice, not politics, from their Court. Yet, the Court has increasingly issued opinions that can only be explained by extremist partisan politics. Texans deserve better. Because we elect our judges in partisan elections, it may not easy – but it’s an imperative. We must restore the Court to its constitutional role as the protector of individual liberty and equality before the law, and an independent voice of everyday Texans in government.